SHANE LOWRY cannot conceal the excitement ahead of his first Major championship this week.
They don’t come much bigger than a British Open at St Andrews, and the 23-year-old Clara man is enjoying the experience of mixing with the game’s biggest stars admitting this “is a special place and it’s great to be involved.”
Lowry’s progress since his sensational victory in last year’s 3 Irish Open has been impressive. Seventh in the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond earned him €108,228, boosting his earnings for the season to €286,795 and the total since he turned professional last June to more than €570,000. He stands 88th in the world rankings.
He earned his place in this illustrious field having shot 62 and 67 in the qualifier at Sunningdale, and Lowry admits his game has been on an upward curve since.
He said: “My putting has improved since the qualifier. Something just clicked that day and I started holing a few and I’ve managed to keep doing that. Hopefully I can keep going on. I drove the ball well over the past couple of weeks but my iron play is not where I want it to be.
“I haven’t a lot of experience of St Andrews. I played here in the Dunhill Links last year, played 11 holes Monday with Padraig Harrington, played Tuesday and will play Wednesday.
“It’s a strange sort of course. The more you see it, the more birdie chances you see. Ok, it depends on the conditions but if you take the tight line off the tee, it can reward you and give you more chances.
“I know it is a Major and it is an Open here at St Andrews, but I am just trying to treat it as any other tournament. I will prepare as well as I can and see what happens come Sunday. Loch Lomond was my first top 10 since Abu Dhabi in January and I feel like it was well overdue, because of the way I have been playing. It is great to be rewarded for some hard work and last Sunday, three birdies in the last six holes, was some reward for the work I’ve done.”
Having captured the West and North of Ireland championships on two of Ireland’s greatest links courses, not to mention last year’s Irish Open at Baltray, Lowry should be perfectly at home at St Andrews. However, he was quick to downplay any heightening of expectations.
“For links golf, you need to visualise your shots and hopefully it will all come back to me this week. The greens are quite well and you can see yourself holing a lot of putts on them. There’s a good surface on them, they are true. They are huge while the fairways are smaller. The little 50-yard shots, you have to approach them differently than you normally would. Usually it is straight out with the lob wedge, but not here.”
Ominously, the weather forecast is anything but favourable for the tournament and again one might think that would be to Lowry’s advantage given his battle against the elements at last year’s Irish Open at Baltray. “Not so,” he insists. “I’d like it to stay like this, sunny and breezy.”
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